Why the election results will be different tonight

SIOUX FALLS, SD (Dakota News Now) – Our lives have changed dramatically with COVID-19. You don’t need anyone to tell you that.

As the world got used to the “new normal,” so did the election.

Voting used to mean long lines at a polling station on a Tuesday in November. Now, there are more ways to vote than ever before: mail-in ballots, absentee ballots, early voting, and of course, in-person voting.

As the way people vote has changed, so has the need to change the way these votes are analyzed.

In the past, The Associated Press used the number of precincts reporting to indicate how many votes remained to be counted.

Precincts are how a state, county, city, or neighborhood is divided for Election Day voting. Each precinct includes state, county, city, and congressional district races specific to that geographic area.

This number is not very reliable anymore.

With all the different ways that people can vote, it also means that there are many ways that a precinct can count and report the vote total.

Just because a station is reporting results doesn’t mean it’s finished calculating them. While this number may represent 99.9% of polling stations, the total number of votes can change dramatically overnight as stations are counted.

We’ve seen once again how a small fraction of votes can change an election year.

So, to provide a more accurate and reliable picture of the vote count, the AP changes its mathematical equation to something more complex: Estimated Vote Percentage.

AP calculates this number based on various factors. They look at things like previous election turnout, early voting details and other numbers along the way.

And this number is fluid. It may change during the evening to allow for surprises. If turnout is higher than expected, the percentage will decrease, and if it is lower than expected, the number will increase.

The AP never publishes a 100% vote tally to certify an election.

This gives us the confidence to deliver the most accurate and reliable information to you and your families.

Although the future is impossible to predict, at Dakota News Now & Gray Television, we strive for integrity, honesty, transparency, and above all, accuracy when announcing election results.

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